Off to fast start, Northampton soccer seeks to defend state championship

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EASTERN SHORE POST/MARK MORING Pictured from left are Thomas Dix, Sebastian Mayorga, and Henry Mayorga. They have grown up playing soccer together and hope to win a second state title.

BY MARK MORING, Eastern Shore Post —

Sebastian Mayorga remembers the six-hour drive to Salem like it was yesterday.

But even more, he remembers the dreary, awful, six-hour ride back home.

Northampton had just lost 2-0 to Galax in the 2022 Class 1 state soccer championship game, and Mayorga took it really hard. And he wasn’t even on the team.

At the time, Mayorga was an eighth grader at Northampton Middle, but he knew all the guys
on the high school roster. Many of them were like family.

“On that ride home, I told my- self, ‘We’re going to have another chance to win it,’” Mayorga remembers.

“I was like, ‘I can’t wait to make varsity and get on that field with them because I really wanted a state championship.’”

Mayorga indeed made varsity as a freshman last spring and helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a 16-4 record and the state title.

They avenged the previous year’s loss to Galax with a 4-1 semifinal win and then whipped Westmoreland 4-1 in the final.

Despite losing eight seniors to graduation, the defending state champs have continued their winning ways this spring.

They’ve won eight of their first nine games, including a 3-0 victory at Nandua on Wednesday, May 1, completing a season sweep over the Warriors.

As a sophomore midfielder, Mayorga leads the Yellow Jackets with seven goals and seven assists.

His cousin, Henry Mayorga, a senior striker, also has seven goals. And Thomas Dix, a junior midfielder, has seven goals and three assists.

The three of them are the heartbeat of a team that Coach Chase Baxa says is at least as good as last year’s.

“We thought it might be a rebuilding year,” says Baxa, “but the talent we have with our front six guys is unbelievable — and they’re all sophomores and juniors. We’re very young but very experienced. I’m sure the guys from last year would have a lot to say about this, but I think we’re even better than last year. We’re just solid.”

Baxa, in his fourth season as coach, says the Jackets are winning with speed and aggressiveness.

“We’re very quick,” he says. “We defend hard and attack even hard- er. We call it a gut-busting style of play because it’s just sprint back, get the ball, and then go quickly.”

Baxa says the program benefits from a Hispanic-heavy lineup because kids in that culture start
playing the game — and becoming proficient — at a very young age.

“Their love for the sport is awesome,” says Baxa. “Soccer is these kids’ life. They live, eat, and
breathe soccer, and that helps our team.”

Henry Mayorga agrees.

“We play year-round, and everyone in my family plays soccer,” he says.

“Everyone’s family, we’re all related, we all know each other through family gatherings. We’ve
all grown up together. There’s a couple non-Hispanics on our team, but they’re like family, too.”

Dix is one of them.

“I’ve grown up playing with all of them, so I basically inherited the cultural experience from them,” he says.

“It’s been rewarding, and their culture has really influenced my life for the better. I’m as close to them as a brother, and I feel like a brother.”

All three players credit Baxa with Northampton’s excellence.

Baxa played eight years of varsity soccer — four in high school in Pennsylvania, and four more at Geneva College.

“Coach Baxa has done a great job getting us ready for every moment possible,” Sebastian Mayorga says.

“He’s always on us about effort and everything.”

“Our coaching has been beyond what anyone could imagine,” says Dix. “He’s pushed us hard and motivated us to become better players.”

Dix agrees with Baxa that this year’s team might be better than last year’s.

“I’d say we’re right there,” he says. “Maybe even better.”

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